Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

12/03/2005

Zombies coming home to roost

Apparently someone has made a horror movie called 'Homecoming', in which "dead veterans of the current conflict crawl out of their graves and stagger single-mindedly to voting booths so they can eject the president who sent them to fight a war sold on "horseshit and elbow grease."

Mmmkay.

As you might have supposed, the Fighting Keyboarders are all over this one. Major General Instapundit:
If the dead start rising over the Iraq War, a lot of them will be rising from Saddam's mass graves. Why not a movie about that? And who would they be haunting, if they did. . . .
Yes, who indeed...


Propaganda for nothing and your lies for free

Tony Pierce (via Antiwar.com) wonders if the Pajamahadeen might just be on the Bush administration payroll:
....so it got me thinking, if BushCo has at least $100 million to spend on name-changing media spinning company in Iraq... do they have $3.5 million left over to spend on a name-changing media spinning company in America?

if RoveCo had no problem funding conservative journalists in the mainstream press to reward/encourage them to continue to write pro-Bush columns, it seems to me that $3.5 million to secure 70 big-time bloggers via multi-year contracts would not only be in line with the history of this administration, but a bargain at twice the price.

now i'm not saying that Charles Johnson and Roger L. Simon are in bed with the Bush Administration, or the Instapundit. those guys are fair and balanced. any time the Republicans make horrible mistakes, the first people to point them out are Little Green Footballs and Professor Reynolds.

but i am saying that in light of the latest example of Propaganda from Above - Pajamas Media is starting to look fishier and fishier.
I don't know that they're on the payroll, but they might as well be. Which is what's most pathetic about the wingnutosphere - they'll catapult the propaganda for free. Christ, guys, at least prostitutes get paid.

Rubbernecking

I feel a little guilty about the enjoyment I get watching war mongers wrench themselves into all sorts of ridiculous and amusing contortions to try to salvage the fairy tale. But fuck it - guilt is for the weak. Laugh along with me; here's Captain Ed:
That flypaper strategy that has almost disappeared from debate over the past two years apparently worked as planned. We drew AQ into the open in Iraq, because they understand (better than some American politicians) that establishing a democracy in the crossroads of Southwest Asia represented an existential threat to Islamofascism...

So why fight in Iraq, rather than Afghanistan? They tried a stand-up fight in Afghanistan and lost -- badly.

...When AQ attacked Americans, some Iraqis might have supported them. However, as more AQ assets died in that effort, the terrorists turned their attention to Iraqi recruits for security forces and lost any sympathy they may have had.

Now they mostly kill Iraqis while having almost no support even among the Sunni (who favor the native "insurgents" but spurn "foreigners" of any stripe) and don't even pretend to be liberating Iraq any more ... AQ flocks to Iraq to fight us there, because that front matters most now. And if we don't fight them there, AQ would be freed up to attack us anywhere else around the globe -- including here at home.
The sentence is bolded above because it underscores the flamboyantly self-contradictory character of the pro-war argument (such as it is).

Others have pointed it out before, but it's worth mentioning again: You can't simultaneously claim (a) this war is being fought for the benefit of the Iraqi people and (b) the purpose of the war was to lure a bunch of terrorists there so they could kill Iraqis.

Morons.

"311, I am ready to fight"

From August J. Pollak, via Atrios (I think):
Former Creed lead singer Scott Stapp and members of the band 311 were involved in a fight on Thanksgiving in the lounge of a luxury hotel, according to hotel security staff and 311 members.

311 were in Baltimore for a weekend concert when several members ran into Stapp earlier that day, band drummer Chad Sexton told The Associated Press ... Sexton said there were no problems during the first meeting.

But Stapp later came into the Harbor Court Hotel bar while Sexton and bandmates SA Martinez and P-Nut were watching basketball on television. He stepped in front of the screen and said, "311, I am ready to fight," according to Sexton.

Sexton said the band tried to defuse the situation, and Stapp went to the bar to drink. Later, he made "inappropriate" comments to Martinez's wife, and was confrontational with Sexton.

"All of a sudden, he clocked me in the left side of my face," Sexton said. "Then a huge fight broke out."
Also from August J. Pollack is a painting he says might just be the greatest of all time (click to enlarge):
Rush the Warrior



Fantasy artist, Clyde Caldwell, turns his brush to political satire! Everyone’s favorite conservative talk show host does battle with a 3-headed liberal monster, as he protects “Lady Liberty” and “Miss Justice” from the lecherous tentacles of the forked-tongued Bill and his cronies.
You can buy a print here for only $20. I think my Christmas shopping is done!


...Battlepanda, in the comments, adds:
I guess that anal cyst that prevented Rush from going to Vietnam is proving no impediment to the slaying of three-headed liberal beasts. And perhaps a threesome afterwards with the sluttiest depictions of liberty and justice I've ever seen.

Republicans are perverts

It's like a law of nature. Seriously, scratch the average GOPer's surface just a little bit, and you find a filthy deviant underneath all that talk about God and family. This is from National Review's John Derbyshire (emphasis added):
...the human female is visually attractive to the human male at, or shortly after, puberty, and for only a few brief years thereafter.

...

Did I buy, or browse, a copy of the November 17 GQ, in order to get a look at Jennifer Aniston's bristols?** No, I didn't. While I have no doubt that Ms. Aniston is a paragon of charm, wit, and intelligence, she is also 36 years old. Even with the strenuous body-hardening exercise routines now compulsory for movie stars, at age 36 the forces of nature have won out over the view-worthiness of the unsupported female bust.

It is, in fact, a sad truth about human life that beyond our salad days, very few of us are interesting to look at in the buff. Added to that sadness is the very unfair truth that a woman's salad days are shorter than a man's — really, in this precise context, only from about 15 to 20.
Somebody get this guy on the sex offender registry.

Vote CPvSS

Your favorite curly-tailed bloggers, Capitalist Pig and Socialist Swine, are finalists for Best Progressive Blog in the 2005 Canadian Blog Awards. You can vote for them here.

12/02/2005

Cheney's waning influence

Mike the Mad Biologist has the scoop -
...sources said Mr. Bush has privately blamed Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for the U.S.-led war in Iraq. They said the president has told his senior aides that the vice president and defense secretary provided misleading assessments on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, as well as the capabilities of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

As a result, the sources said, Mr. Cheney has been ousted from his role as the administration's point man in the area of national security. They said presidential staffers have kept Mr. Cheney out of the loop on discussions on policy as the White House has struggled with the political and intelligence fallout from the war in Iraq....
Rest.

Paul Hackett is stupid

Or perhaps he's intentionally trying to pull one over on people, but I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt:
"You ask yourself if you are better off today than 11 years ago when Mike DeWine was first elected, or when Sherrod Brown was first elected," Hackett said. "If you can take a look at your checkbook and your life in America and tell yourself that you are better off today, or that your neighbors are better off today, then you're probably not going to be interested in my candidacy."
Yes, because Sherrod Brown should have single-handedly saved the country from the GOP.

Boy, is this Hackett guy not ready for prime time or what? I've noticed that liberal bloggers who previously supported Hackett loudly and proudly have been pretty quiet about him recently, though that could just be because not much is happening in that race right now.

Sirota has more.

Quote of the day

David Limbaugh (via Digby):
"I just wish the left would stop focusing on all these scandals."
Yeah, I'll bet you do.

War pragmatism

The Blue Voice pulls this quote from Will Blum's book 'Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower':
"From 1945 to 2003, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements fighting against intolerable regimes. In the process, the US bombed some 25 countries, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair."

12/01/2005

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be zombies

AP:
Video games glamorizing guns and violence have long drawn the ire of media watchdog groups. This holiday season, they say they have found a bloody new wrinkle to hate: cannibalism.

In "Stubbs the Zombie," the lead character eats the brains of humans as blood splatters across the screen.

"It's just the worst kind of message to kids," said Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Yes, Joe, it certainly is. Kids need to know that it is NOT OK to eat human brains.

Oh yeah, and there's also the whole ironic thing about Joe wanting to crack down on video game violence while simultaneously cheerleading for the real thing in Iraq.

Plus, it's funny to me that everyone is up in arms about video games, when almost every kid has access to the friggin' internet, where he is just a few clicks away from any pornography, violent images, bomb-making instructions, gas-huffing tips, etc. etc. that he might be interested in.

But let's just keep that between us, lest the God Squad turn to internet censorship next.

Iraqification

(I like that better than "Iraqization." Same bullshit, but easier to pronounce.)

It's kind of sad that there's still really no serious discussion going on in the media, Blogland included, about what is really going on in Iraq. Simply put, too few have put much effort (myself included) into investigating - and explaining, really - the situation in Iraq: what the Bush administration's purposes are (permanent bases? oil?), what the wishes of the Iraqi people are (Glenn Reynolds can sit in front of his computer and declare that the Iraqis are better off with the occupation, but his opinion is quite irrelevant), how much of Iraq the US actually controls (not as much as most people probably think), etc.

Josh Buermann gets it:
Do those promulgating "Iraqization" and a "timetable" based upon the ability of the US-backed government to defend itself remember that we're refusing to equip the Iraqi government with the tools required for such an effort? ... Why have we been purposefully keeping the new Iraqi government weak? We could wildly speculate but we don't really know why we're there in the first place.

If, as the Loyal Opposition now believes, the Administration lied about its casus belli then what do they think the actual motive was? That our objective has been for "free and fair elections [to] be conducted without foreign influence"? I bet! Lacking any honest assessment, let alone national discussion, of why we are in Iraq it seems shortsighted to me that anybody suggest that we continue to give the administration rope enough to continue prosecuting its dubious objectives. If you somehow got so far as to pass such legislation, for instance, "that the US should only make this airstrike capability available for defensive operations" then they will simply call all their operations "defensive responses".

If we're to pretend that the administration somehow sees as its first priority the prevention or mitigation of a civil war then the way out looks pretty clear, and they haven't taken it.
These are a great couple of paragraphs, and I hope Josh will forgive me for quoting from them at such length. The entire 'debate' over Iraq in the mainstream corporate media, and on the big-name liberal blogs like Daily Kos, is basically drenched in bullshit. Democrats like Markos might be on the right side of the Iraq debate in the sense that they oppose the war (though has Kos called for immediate withdrawal?), but the fact that they don't really understand just what is going on in Iraq undercuts a lot of their effectiveness as critics of the administration.

The Iraq debacle is not a result of an 'idealistic' neoconservative vision for freedom in the Middle East that was, while admirable, unrealistic. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was an unprovoked invasion - a crime - undertaken for the Bush administration's selfish reasons without regard for the welfare or wishes of the people of Iraq or the United States. If you didn't think that before the war, you can't deny it now, after seeing the way the administration executed the occupation - not only incompetently, but viciously and brutally.

Anything short of a call for immediate withdrawal implies some level of trust in the Bush administration's will and ability to help the Iraqi people. And anyone with even a modicum of rationality knows that such an idea is laughable at best.

Face transplant

It's been talked about for a while, and now it's finally happened. The face of a brain dead donor was transplanted on to a woman who was mauled by a dog.

A government ethics panel, though, is suggesting that the doctors might have acted improperly, because they gave the patient the face transplant immediately, as an emergency procedure, without trying 'conventional' methods first.

Teenager repellent

I thought this (HT: Artful Manager) was a joke at first, but apparently not:
Though he did not know it at the time, the idea came to Howard Stapleton when he was 12 and visiting a factory with his father, a manufacturing executive in London. Opening the door to a room where workers were using high-frequency welding equipment, he found he could not bear to go inside.

"The noise!" he complained.

"What noise?" the grownups asked.

Now 39, Mr. Stapleton has taken the lesson he learned that day - that children can hear sounds at higher frequencies than adults can - to fashion a novel device that he hopes will provide a solution to the eternal problem of obstreperous teenagers who hang around outside stores and cause trouble.

The device, called the Mosquito ("It's small and annoying," Mr. Stapleton said), emits a high-frequency pulsing sound that, he says, can be heard by most people younger than 20 and almost no one older than 30. The sound is designed to so irritate young people that after several minutes, they cannot stand it and go away.

...Mr. Stapleton, a security consultant whose experience in installing store alarms and the like alerted him to the gravity of the loitering problem, studied other teenage-repellents as part of his research. Some shops, for example, use "zit lamps," which drive teenagers away by casting a blue light onto their spotty skin, accentuating any whiteheads and other blemishes.
"Zit lamps"?? That has to be a joke.

Supposedly, classical music works to repel teenagers as well.

Project this

Malkin:
Janeane Garofalo, left-wing actress-turned-Air America radio host, is a miserable woman. ... Ms. Garofalo accused conservatives of having "an anger management problem. Without a trace of irony, the frowning Garofalo griped about "right-wing partisan hacks who are always on the verge of punching somebody or always behave as if they've just been cut off in traffic."

This, dear readers, is a classic case of liberal projection ... Ms. Garafolo crossly blames the Right while denying the pathological wrath and fury that characterize the unhinged Left.

Who are you calling angry, Ms. Garofalo? You want political road rage? Let's start with Al. Take your pick: Sharpton. Gore. Franken. Yearrghh!

Now, open your eyes:

It isn't out-of-control conservatives tossing Molotov cocktails at police officers in San Francisco, burning American soldiers in effigy, and smearing blood and feces on the walls and windows of military recruitment centers across the country to protest on behalf of peace.

It isn't rage-blinded conservative professors who embrace fragging (the murder of American soldiers by their fellow soldiers on the battlefield) as a legitimate anti-war tactic.

It isn't vengeful conservatives torching SUVs, condo developments, and research facilities, and targeting biotech and pharmaceutical company employees and their families to protest on behalf of the environment.

It wasn't mad conservatives sporting "F*** Bush" license plates, punching cardboard cutouts of the president, and vowing to secede after losing the 2004 presidential election...
It was, however, unhinged conservatives who started shooting abortion doctors.

Just sayin'.

11/30/2005

Atrios stole my bit!

Look here (specifically, the picture at the bottom).

Now look here.

I expect royalties!


(By the way, if you're offended by my use of a certain word in that post, you weren't the only one. I do apologize; I tried to make amends here.)

Granted, there are similarities

Orrin Hatch:
"The Democratic Party seems to be taken over by the Michael Moore contingent in their attitude toward Vietnam, and they continually call for a withdrawal of troops at a time when we haven't finished the job."

11/29/2005

Un-fucking-hinged

Have you heard the audio of Bill O'Reilly going completely bananas yet? Crooks and Liars has an excerpt, and you've got to hear it. This man (using that term loosely) is unquestionably off his rocker. I mean truly, "Get the bugs off me!" delusional. This is my rough transcript of part of it -
You can't accuse Bush and Cheney of lying ... that's what I'm talking about, not honest dissent. I'm talking about blatant propaganda spit out there on a daily basis by hateful liars, picked up by the mainstream media and rammed down the public's throat.

And you know who I'm talking about ... you know the newspapers that do it, you know the radio people that do it, you know the TV people that do it, and you should be as angry about it as I am!

It's dishonest, it hurts the country, and I'm gonna bring those people down. Mark my words. I'm gonna take them down. Because nobody else will, I'm gonna do it ... we're gonna go after those people where they live ...
But you've really got to listen to the whole thing yourself.

We are witnessing something ugly. The right wing is becoming a victim of its own electoral success. All they know how to do is rant and rave, and they fall back on that when they don't know what else to do. They see their fantasy world crumbling around them, and instead of looking in the mirror, they insist, like paranoid schizophrenics, that external forces are intent upon doing them in, that they're being sabotaged by malevolent foes who are lurking everywhere.

But no matter how much they scream and yell, the demons remain ... so they scream and yell some more.

And there's no light at the end of the tunnel. These people will be at the helm of the most powerful nation in the world until at least 2008. Unless something drastic happens, things are going to continue to get even worse.

The world is now officially insane.

Sweet

Mike the Mad Biologist took a test called "Which fucked-up genius composer are you?", so I took it too. My results:

you are Hank Williams!
Hank Williams... you're fucked up on drinks, pills
and a broken heart. You'll die young and wild,
but influence more people than you could ever
imagine. If it wasn't for you, rock n roll
would be nothing more than benign and insipid.


Which fucked-up genius composer are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hank Williams is the man.

Oh, the stupidity

Angelica finds this marvelously stupid quote from an IDiot:
Believe it or not, you were perfect when you were born. You were obviously healthy if you are posting here today, you hadn't sinned, and were making choices and using your free will, though they were small choices. Unfortunately, later in your life you made some bad choices and now you are a sinner, but remember, God MADE you perfect.

One of the most basic laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that as time goes by, entropy in an environment will increase. Evolution argues differently against a law that is accepted EVERYWHERE BY EVERYONE. Evolution says that we started out simple, and over time became more complex. That just isn't possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it.

Hmm

Mark Noonan:
I'm going to go out on a limb here...without checking to see if I'm right, I'm going to assert that as of today, November 29th 2005, no American homeless person has died of exposure since the start of Fall. I feel pretty confident in making this assertion because had there been such, the MSM would have trumpeted it and blamed President Bush and the Evil Republicans for such a death. I'll further bet that there haven't been six such deaths (ie, homeless people dying of exposure) in America over the past two years.


...also from Mark:
While the left keeps up its absurd drumbeat on the subject of torture, people on the right side of the aisle are having a serious discussion of the issue.
Well, Mark, we've known torture was wrong since we were old enough to know what the word meant. We don't need to have a 'serious discussion of the issue'. It's telling that you guys do.

What's next, a 'serious discussion' about slavery?

I agree with 50-Cent

From Dum Pendebat Filius:
Rapper 50 Cent thinks President Bush is a “gangsta” and has given him props:
Fiddy even said that if he didn’t have felony convictions preventing him from balloting, he would have voted for Bush in the last election.

As breaking news reports, Fiddy said: “He’s is incredible… A gangster. I wanna meet George Bush, just shake his hand and tell him how much of me I see in him.”
Well, one difference between the two of them is that 'Fiddy' has actually been shot at.

But other than that, I think he's right; Bush is indeed a gangster. Of course, I tend not to think that that is a good thing, but what the hell do I know?

War - all the cool kids are doing it

So you've probably heard that Bruce Willis is planning to make a pro-war movie about the occupation of Iraq.

Thank god. If Hollywood doesn't start glorifying war again, the next generation is going to have a serious shortage of gung-ho recruits for President Jenna Bush's invasion of Luxembourg in 2025.

Al Jazeera

I'm kind of embarrassed that I didn't already think of this. Luckily, Josh Buermann did.

In a nutshell: in light of the recent revelations about Bush's desire to bomb Al-Jazeera headquarters in Qatar, how credible is the Bush administration's claim that the previous attacks on Al-Jazeera, in Kabul and Baghdad, were accidental?

Well, you know.

11/28/2005

What the hell is wrong with me?

Why do I keep reading Blogs for Bush? Why do I do it? I know it's not good for me, yet I do it anyway. Maybe I should get some of that software that prevents you from accessing certain websites.

Mark Noonan, the most prolific writer over there, is such an enormous asshole that it's almost impressive. Here's what he had to say today:
David Duke and the Anti-War Left: Is There a Difference?

We report, you decide:
Former Ku Klux Klan leader and Louisiana State Representative David Duke was in Syria on Monday to express solidarity with Damascus.

At a press conference in the Damascus' Rawda Square, Duke said, "I have come to Syria to express my support for the Syrian people.... It's the duty of every free man to reject the conspiracies and threats Syria is exposed to." Duke charged that pro-Israel neo-conservatives in the US are controlling American foreign policy and that "Zionist-controlled mass media" are hiding "the reality of Israeli terrorism against the Arabs." ... (emphasis added)
If you can spot the difference between what Duke said and what, say, Moore or MoveOn say all the time, then you're a lot smarter than I am. Duke, of course, is a crank...but it is illustrative that Duke crankism is now general on the left. The utter disintegration of the left is complete...it is now in favor of anything as long as it is against America...

So, lefties, what have you to say for yourselves?
I'll let the bit about being "a lot smarter than" Mark is go by, but I'd like to try my hand at spotting the difference between Duke's rhetoric and that of Michael Moore and MoveOn.

Let's see ... I'm pretty sure that neither Moore nor MoveOn has ever used the phrase "Zionist-controlled mass media." So, there's one difference.

Look, do you guys really want to play this game? Because the rules seem to be: if your position on a given issue is the same as that of David Duke, then you are crazy and wrong and you hate America.

Hey, what do you think David Duke's position on immigration is? What do you suppose he has to say about affirmative action?

Learn something new every day

Someone just left this comment on a post from way back in May in which I gave my much-coveted endorsement to Bernie Sanders:
America is a republic not a socialist country! Our forefathers wrote the Constitution to protect us from communism (aka socialism). If people want to live in a socialist country, the UK is open.

For any American to go against the Constitution and to try and overthrow our republic, I feel you have committed treason upon our country. SHAME ON YALL! Why are you giving away our freedom!?? Vote NO to socialism! Vote NO to Sanders!
God Bless America!

By Vermonter!, at 11/27/2005 3:23 PM
I was unaware that the Constitution was intended to be a bulwark against communism.

Liberal media

MSNBC's Chris Matthews:
Everybody sorta likes the president except the real whack jobs on the left.
Atrios posts Bush's approval ratings as a rebuttal to this claim, but I actually think there's a kernel of truth here. Most Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing, but most of them still "sorta like" the guy, except for us whack jobs on the left, who find it difficult to feel amiable toward war criminals.

Is this important? I don't know.

Wingnuts aren't the only ones who talk to God

Bitch Ph.D. interprets the incident at the Supreme Court this morning as a clear warning from God not to confirm Alito.

In addition, God told me it was also a warning to the Court not to even think about overturning Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony!

11/27/2005

Begging the question

A commenter at Ezra Klein's:
The entire dKos soap opera is a depressing sign that the Left's willingness to engage in circular firing squads and ideological purity tests is alive and well.
Ah, but what if we're not on the same side? Which is exactly what is at issue.

Question-beggar!!


...as for 'ideological purity', all I can say is, insisting upon some ideological standards is not equivalent to insisting on ideological purity. I think somebody needs to read David Sirota's 'Partisan War Syndrome'.

21st century Dada

From the International Herald Tribune:
After almost a century, is Dada still among us?

PARIS Viewed from almost a century later, Dada can be easily recognized as a short-lived but influential movement that expressed its revolt against World War I by challenging artistic and intellectual conventions. Yet magnified in a large exhibition at the Georges Pompidou Center, it risks being reduced to its component parts.

Of course, that may be how Dada intended things to be.

Certainly, from its birth in a Zurich club called Cabaret Voltaire in 1916, the Dada movement appeared eager to avoid classification. Its impact was immediately felt in New York, Paris and the German cities of Berlin, Cologne and Hanover, but in each city it expressed itself differently. Then, like many revolutions, its ardor waned. By 1924, if not earlier, Dada was over.

But not, it seems, for the Pompidou.

Its new show, which runs through Jan. 9, proposes that Dada is still very much alive, its influence on contemporary art all too apparent in today's collages, installations, ready-mades and performances. After Paris, this premise will travel: Versions of "Dada" will be at the National Gallery of Art in Washington from Feb. 19 to May 14 and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from June 18 to Sept. 11.

But what is Dada? Legend has it that its bizarre name was chosen in a typically Dada manner: by chance. Using a paper-knife, the story goes, Tristan Tzara, Hans Arp and others in Zurich arbitrarily selected a word from a French-German dictionary. Its meaning - hobbyhorse - was, well, meaningless in this context. It simply served as an empty vessel into which artists could pour themselves.

"It is the only art movement named not by critics but by the artists themselves," said Laurent Le Bon, the Pompidou show's curator.

Dada did have a purpose - to protest against society in general and the art world in particular. This gave it a reputation for being destructive, intellectually if not physically (though some early performances at the Cabaret Voltaire were decidedly raucous). But again, the Pompidou differs: It believes Dada was creative in its radical nihilism - and it has deployed more than 1,000 works to prove it.
Click here to continue reading this post.
After almost a century, is Dada still among us?

PARIS Viewed from almost a century later, Dada can be easily recognized as a short-lived but influential movement that expressed its revolt against World War I by challenging artistic and intellectual conventions. Yet magnified in a large exhibition at the Georges Pompidou Center, it risks being reduced to its component parts.

Of course, that may be how Dada intended things to be.

Certainly, from its birth in a Zurich club called Cabaret Voltaire in 1916, the Dada movement appeared eager to avoid classification. Its impact was immediately felt in New York, Paris and the German cities of Berlin, Cologne and Hanover, but in each city it expressed itself differently. Then, like many revolutions, its ardor waned. By 1924, if not earlier, Dada was over.

But not, it seems, for the Pompidou.

Its new show, which runs through Jan. 9, proposes that Dada is still very much alive, its influence on contemporary art all too apparent in today's collages, installations, ready-mades and performances. After Paris, this premise will travel: Versions of "Dada" will be at the National Gallery of Art in Washington from Feb. 19 to May 14 and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from June 18 to Sept. 11.

But what is Dada? Legend has it that its bizarre name was chosen in a typically Dada manner: by chance. Using a paper-knife, the story goes, Tristan Tzara, Hans Arp and others in Zurich arbitrarily selected a word from a French-German dictionary. Its meaning - hobbyhorse - was, well, meaningless in this context. It simply served as an empty vessel into which artists could pour themselves.

"It is the only art movement named not by critics but by the artists themselves," said Laurent Le Bon, the Pompidou show's curator.

Dada did have a purpose - to protest against society in general and the art world in particular. This gave it a reputation for being destructive, intellectually if not physically (though some early performances at the Cabaret Voltaire were decidedly raucous). But again, the Pompidou differs: It believes Dada was creative in its radical nihilism - and it has deployed more than 1,000 works to prove it.

The movement naturally has its icons, notably Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades, including "Fountain," the ceramic urinal signed R. Mutt that he presented in 1917, and his Mona Lisa with mustache, titled "L.H.O.O.Q.," which read quickly in French is a slightly vulgar rendering of "she feels sexy." These, along with Duchamp's coat stand and bottle rack, also in the show, are undeniable precursors of conceptual art.

But as the exhibition demonstrates, Dada refused limits on its expression. Its proponents experimented in painting (while declaring painting dead), sculpture, photography, movies and literature. Indeed, distinguishing the Pompidou show from those planned for Washington and New York is the large number of texts - magazines, books, poetry, letters and manifestos - on display.

This helps underscore that Dada was principally an intellectual movement, one that set out to provoke and scandalize as a strategic response to prevailing social and artistic values. If art was meant to be beautiful, for example, Dada anticipated Arte Povera by using the detritus - the throwaways - of emerging industrial societies.

Most striking, perhaps, is how almost simultaneously artists and intellectuals in cities far apart felt a need for Dada. In Zurich, despite Switzerland's neutrality, the reaction was against the futile war raging across Europe. As Arp later recalled: "While the thunder of the batteries rumbled in the distance, we pasted, we recited, we versified, we sang with all our soul."

In Berlin, as the Kaiser's empire crumbled, giving way to a fragile and vulnerable democracy, Dada's message was also political. It organized meetings intended to shock audiences numbed by war and defeat. George Grosz and Otto Dix noted the movement in their drawings and paintings. Other artists used photomontages to turn reality inside out.

In New York, still charmed by Post-Impressionism and puzzled by Cubism, Duchamp and others took on the art establishment as a way of holding up a mirror to modern society. "Cher Tzara," the American photographer Man Ray wrote in a letter in 1921. "Dada cannot live in New York. All New York is dada, and will not tolerate a rival."

Understandably, the Pompidou has not tried to impose an artificial order on its exhibition. Instead, it has created a chessboard of some 45 interconnecting spaces, each representing an artist, a city or a special feature linked to the movement.

Paintings, collages and wooden reliefs by Arp and Francis Picabia, for instance, show Dada's influence over abstract art. The connection to Constructivism is illustrated in a film of geometric drawings by Hans Richter. Man Ray's "Rayographs" placed everyday kitchen objects on development paper to create unexpected shapes.

"Max Ernst said that Dada is a bomb and you can only pick up the bits," Le Bon noted. "When you pick up the bits here, you can see all the elements of 20th-century art."

In 1921, Tzara, a Romanian-born poet and Dada's central figure, moved to Paris and a highly literate form of Dada flourished briefly around the likes of André Breton, Louis Aragon and Paul Éluard. But while Dada found space to breathe in other cities, Paris was an intellectual pressure-cooker and personality clashes soon erupted, with Breton often at their center.

In fact, it was Breton's Surrealist Manifesto in 1924 that announced the birth of a new movement and the demise of Dada. Open, nonconformist and spontaneous, Dada was not equipped to resist Surrealism, which was closed, disciplined and ritualistic. Over the next 15 years, Surrealism ruled the Left Bank.

But yes, the Pompidou has a point. Just as Surrealism helped to shape modern perceptions, Dada continued to inspire artists: Abstract Expressionists; the "happenings" of the 1960s, which echoed the Cabaret Voltaire; and conceptual artists like Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas owe much to Duchamp and Dada.

Where the difference lies, though, is that Dada is now part of an evolutionary process. The shock has largely disappeared. Dada's aesthetic values may even have triumphed, but its political message has been forgotten. Today, many artists like to shock, not to overthrow the art establishment but to join it.

The continuing sorry state of the liberal blogosphere

Some people still don't get it. The leading 'progressive' bloggers are in reality squishy 'moderates' who hew to the same basic philosophy as the DLCers they so loathe. The 'liberal' Atrios rants about the "annoying left" and their "non-stop whining ... about how Clinton is personally responsible for an ever-changing number of dead Iraqi children", as if Clinton (among others) weren't responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Oliver Willis prints up t-shirts that read "Truman Dropped The Bomb," celebrating and making light of one of the most horrific events in all of human history. And, of course, the celebrated Markos Moulitsas is "not one of these touchy-feely hippy types that thinks war is inherently bad".

Seriously, this is the supposed cream of the crop of the liberal blogosphere? Fucking pathetic.


...Maybe I'm being overly pessimistic. I should mention that there are many, many very good liberal/left blogs out there. Every single one on the right side of this page (under 'allies'), for example. But of the ten or so most popular 'liberal' blogs, depending on how you measure, none is more than intermittently useful.

An oldie but a goodie

One of Kevin Drum's readers links to this old Onion 'Point-Counterpoint', which is even funnier (and more darkly so) than it was when it was originally published back in March of 2003, when those of us who opposed the upcoming invasion of Iraq were mostly written off as kooks and extremists:
Point: This War Will Destabilize The Entire Mideast Region And Set Off A Global Shockwave Of Anti-Americanism

By Nathan Eckert

George W. Bush may think that a war against Iraq is the solution to our problems, but the reality is, it will only serve to create far more.

This war will not put an end to anti-Americanism; it will fan the flames of hatred even higher. It will not end the threat of weapons of mass destruction; it will make possible their further proliferation. And it will not lay the groundwork for the flourishing of democracy throughout the Mideast; it will harden the resolve of Arab states to drive out all Western (i.e. U.S.) influence.

If you thought Osama bin Laden was bad, just wait until the countless children who become orphaned by U.S. bombs in the coming weeks are all grown up. Do you think they will forget what country dropped the bombs that killed their parents? In 10 or 15 years, we will look back fondly on the days when there were only a few thousand Middle Easterners dedicated to destroying the U.S. and willing to die for the fundamentalist cause. From this war, a million bin Ladens will bloom.

And what exactly is our endgame here? Do we really believe that we can install Gen. Tommy Franks as the ruler of Iraq? Is our arrogance and hubris so great that we actually believe that a U.S. provisional military regime will be welcomed with open arms by the Iraqi people? Democracy cannot possibly thrive under coercion. To take over a country and impose one's own system of government without regard for the people of that country is the very antithesis of democracy. And it is doomed to fail.

A war against Iraq is not only morally wrong, it will be an unmitigated disaster.

*****

Counterpoint: No it won't

By Bob Sheffer

No it won't.

It just won't. None of that will happen.

You're getting worked up over nothing. Everything is going to be fine. So just relax, okay? You're really overreacting.

"This war will not put an end to anti-Americanism; it will fan the flames of hatred even higher"?

It won't.

"It will harden the resolve of Arab states to drive out all Western (i.e. U.S.) influence"?

Not really.

"A war against Iraq is not only morally wrong, it will be an unmitigated disaster"?

Sorry, no, I disagree.

"To take over a country and impose one's own system of government without regard for the people of that country is the very antithesis of democracy"?

You are completely wrong.

Trust me, it's all going to work out perfect. Nothing bad is going to happen. It's all under control.

Why do you keep saying these things? I can tell when there's trouble looming, and I really don't sense that right now. We're in control of this situation, and we know what we're doing. So stop being so pessimistic.

Look, you've been proven wrong, so stop talking. You've had your say already. Be quiet, okay? Everything's fine.

You're wrong.

Iraqis better off under Saddam? (redux)

I wouldn't know. But that's what Ayad Allawi, the former leader of the US-backed Iraqi government, seems to think.
Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record, according to the country's first Prime Minister after the fall of Saddam's regime.

'People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse,' Ayad Allawi told The Observer. 'It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.'

In a damning and wide-ranging indictment of Iraq's escalating human rights catastrophe, Allawi accused fellow Shias in the government of being responsible for death squads and secret torture centres. The brutality of elements in the new security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police, he said.

...Allawi's bleak assessment is likely to undermine any attempt to suggest that conditions in Iraq are markedly improving.

'We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated,' he added. 'A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations. We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them.'

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